It’s Still Heat And Everyone Else


VIDEO: Chris Bosh’s game-winning 3-pointer sinks the Blazers

Dwyane Wade flips a behind-the-back pass with a move that is slicker than anything on a South Beach dance floor and Chris Bosh lets fly a 3-pointer that would have sailed over the top of a palm tree.

Bosh’s game-winner did not just serve as the deciding margin in the most entertaining NBA game of the season to date, but as another difference between the two-time defending champs and everybody else.

The Heat have it figured out.

Even with the Trail Blazers rising to the challenge against a full-throated home crowd. Even with LaMarcus Aldridge showing why he belongs in the MVP conversation. Even with Wesley Matthews lighting it up. Even with LeBron James left to only play the role of world’s roughest, toughest cheerleader.

As we prepare to flip the pages another calendar year, the one thing that doesn’t change is Miami’s ability to survive and thrive. Is it myopia or jealousy or sheer boredom that keeps running new contenders up the flagpole and ignoring the resolve and sheer talent of the Heat’s Big Three?

This is, after all, why Pat Riley went to such great lengths to put them in the same uniforms, so that they wouldn’t ever be forced to rely on just one of them?

Here was yet another season that began with yet another set of questions about Wade’s knees and Bosh’s guts and whether James was already peeking ahead to next summer and a chance to return to the Cleveland. And here they are looking like anything but a trio that is ready to surrender its championship grip or prevailing aura.

The standings may show the Heat currently with the fourth-best record in the league, behind the Pacers, Thunder and Blazers and yet you can have the entire field of 29 teams as long as I get to keep Miami.

The Pacers are a fierce and committed blend of burgeoning youth and smart veterans who have made it their goal to finish with the best regular season record and grab home-court advantage all the way through the playoffs into late June. Paul George is an MVP-in-waiting, only the year(s) in question, Roy Hibbert brings the inside bulk and power of a road grader and the rest of the Pacers lineup is filled with weapons.

Yet after beating Miami in Indy on Dec. 10, they let a 15-point lead slip away eight nights later in a rematch, even on a night when James and Mario Chalmers were jawing at each other on the sidelines.

The Thunder were in the spring of 2012, and are still, supposed to be rising young challengers whose games swell with growth and confidence each season. But it’s that swelling in Russell Westbrook’s right knee that has now once more required surgery and could stop OKC from ever reaching its full potential. With James Harden in Houston, they don’t have the three-way luxury of the Heat lineup, and the 2013 playoffs demonstrated that as good as he is, Kevin Durant likely can’t finish the job himself.

The explosive rise of the Blazers behind Aldridge and Damian Lillard and Nic Batum has been as fun and exciting a story as any in the league this season. Yet even on a night when they drop in 11 3-pointers and out-rebound the Heat, they couldn’t close the deal.

The Spurs are still piling up wins against the lesser lights in the league, but may have permanently lost their grip on any chance for a fifth franchise championship in those fateful 28 seconds of Game 6 in The Finals.

The fretting over or knocking of Miami arises any time the Heat lose two straight games, a leftover product of the hype and expectation that greeted their coming together. But if the past three seasons should have taught anything, it is that James, Wade and Bosh are the ones who have assumed nothing and put themselves to the task.

While the Pacers, Thunder, Blazers and the rest are trying to figure it all out, the Heat have amassed what Spurs coach Gregg Popovich calls “the corporate knowledge” of what it takes to play with each other, trust each other and get the very most out of each other.

The result is an offense that is second-best in efficiency this season and a defense, rated eighth, that can close like a fist around a windpipe and choke off opponents when it’s time.

There is no doubt that, at 32, Wade’s knees require the delicate care of hothouse orchids, yet he can still bloom and take your breath away. Bosh continues to have his inner strength and his consistency questioned, but explodes for 37 points and leaves nothing untapped in Portland. James, well, simply plays the game on a planet where he is the only inhabitant.

So while everyone else around them in the NBA is wondering how Riley and team owner Micky Arison can — and whether they want to — keep the band together after next summer, the Heat keep knocking out hits and asking the only question that matters: Why not?

51 Comments

  1. jdub455 says:

    yeah its still the heat… you just cant beat them in a 7 game series… they just now how to win in the crucial moment. if the spurs wont come out in the west, they’ll surely get the 3peat. i just dont c indiana beating them, not yet. beasley and oden are big addition to them who are yet to play against them

  2. harris27312 says:

    It’s funny how they keep saying the heat then everybody else when the heat is in second place in the east. Not a heat fan at all but I will give them their props but as with all good games be it football or basketball any giving sunday rule applies.

  3. kg21 says:

    Lot of people say they are “MIAM FAN” which im sure they are “CAVS FAN” before LBJ decided to team up with WADE for the RING. 1 THING IS FOR SURE..MOST OF THE MIAMI FANS ARE NOT REALLY A MIAMI FANS, THEY ARE LBJ FANS.

  4. Rob says:

    I think it goes without saying that any team that has won 2 titles in a row and has one of the best records in the league so far would be the team to beat in any era. Also, the experience of getting to the NBA Finals the last 3 seasons and winning the last 2 may give them an edge over any of the teams likely to pose them any kind of threat. However, it is still too early to call, injuries have already played a big part in the league this season and we will only have an idea of the momentum each team will carry into the playoffs towards the end of the regular season. The intensity that most teams play with during the regular season seems to have gone down in recent years, partly due to how poor teams in the East have been, the dominance of the Heat and how teams try to manipulate the Draft Lottery. This season looks like it could be different though, and I don’t think talent and experience alone will be enough as their rivals have greatly improved, have more experience and also seem to be playing with a bit more purpose. Whatever happens, this looks like it could turn out to be one of the best NBA seasons (especially considering all the injuries) in a while.

  5. Latigo Spurs Rapper says:

    GO SPURS GO!!!!!!

  6. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    Yes, the Heat are the Champs until someone defeats them, but consider Chris Bosh made a game-winning 25-footer at Portland. Luck?

    Miami can’t rely on things like that. Bosh is having a down season so far. Wade always has to sit out a game here and there. Ray Allen is past his prime. Beasley is a nice addition, but whatever. Now, Lebron had to sit out for that Portland game? Hopefully, he won’t miss any more games, but if he does, he may be seriously injured.

    Miami Heat could be in serious trouble, if they want to win it all. This is the OKC Thunder’s year! :-)

  7. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    Actually, the Thunder have a “BIG 5″ brewing. That is, when Westbrook returns and is super fresh for the playoffs. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Reggie Jackson (just as good as James Harden), and Jeremy Lamb (the next Ray Allen) are the Thunder’s BIG FIVE!

    OKC is better than ever. They don’t have a BIG 3; they have a BIG 5! I still predict this is their year. Now, they’re just making sure Russell has excellent health for the entire playoff push. That’s really why they’re going to play without him for, maybe, a couple months. He’s not really hurt. Just precautionary measures.

  8. StuNNa says:

    *Sigh* …. So we’re playing this game again? Just like last year? What would the title of this article be had Ginobli made both free throws at the end of game 6?

    • turbo says:

      truth is that Ginobili had a chance to put it away, didn’t, wich gave the opportunity to the Heat, who did.
      The Heat have more then enough options to finish a game off, in addition to their über-core of players. That’s why my, and everyone else’s should be too, money is on the Heat this year. Again.
      All this coming from a Wolves and Mavericks fan by the way

  9. jimbo says:

    Indiana needs to acquire “corporate knowledge” in order to knock off Miami. Until then, it is indeed Miami and everyone else.
    Its up to you Indiana, the ball is in your court !!!

  10. Let's go Heat says:

    Not sure if Oden can help the Heat much in ECF coz he does not play any game for so long time. But I hope healthy Birdman can guard Roy for some extent and leave CB to play at PF. Big 3 + Ray Allen + Birdman…

  11. Number 13 says:

    If Hibbert isn’t in foul trouble for most of the second half of that match, Pacers win that game. The Hibbert and West mismatch will not be solved by Oden’s presence.

  12. justsayin says:

    All aboard the Heat circle-twerk!

    Still, if they get Bynum, it really may well be all over for e’one else.

  13. Gillsy says:

    Yes the Heat are good. But where was Bosh’s game like played the other night in the playoffs last year when they needed him to do it. Yes a centre like Sanders could go well in the front court and allow Bosh to play the 4 again. The person on this team I still cant believe is Allen. He is like a fine wine just keeps getting better.

  14. okc2014 says:

    It’s hard to hear again and again buts it’s true. It’s the Heat against everyone else. Although I think this season it won’t be as easy. The Pacers have a bone to pick and Kevin Durant is on a “I hate you tour”. The Portland Trailblazers are the surprise of the year, but I’m still not convinced they will carry this tempo through the playoffs.

  15. chris says:

    pat riley should get larry sanders

  16. Ali says:

    Only james joone khodam

  17. LeBron iZ DeezD says:

    Oden is gettin DeezD!!! LeBron is dismantling manz dizz year…. Y’UHHHHHHHHHH OHHHHHHHH…. S’LONG KOBE!!! HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

  18. HEAT 3PEAT says:

    THe pints is miami heat year after year has overcomed all the odds and win it all because they have the heart and toughness. People overreact when top nba teams beat the Heat, but when it comes to the playoffs… heat beat them no matter if its in 4 6 or even 7 games they just have the heart, mentallity, toughness, desire and talent. People keep saying oh they will not win because of wade knee… last year we won with wade having knee problems. I believe when Greg Oden plays he will stop Hibbert say what yo want you’ll see. Pat Riley built a team to win multiple tittles not two. Prediction:heat overcome the odds for third straight year and 3peat, sorry CAVS, but LBJ stays so thus the rest big three and miami will get new bench players

  19. cp10 says:

    GSW or Portland vs Pacers @ finals this year!!

  20. Game Time says:

    Article will rub people the wrong way, but it’s the truth. In a seven game series Miami is still the team to beat and everyone else has to prove that they are.

  21. HEATFANSINCEWADE says:

    Great Article! Fran knows what every True Heat fan and all non-haters know. The Heat are the Champs and the best team in the league. Until you knock off the Champs, have respect and watch your team get beat over and over again. Heat nation stand up!

  22. Witness says:

    Great article Fran. Heat have shown during their run they really have nothing to prove in the regular season. It’s all about being ready and winning that ring in June. They have that confidence they can win on the road. It seems logical actually either run Wade into the ground trying to win every game during the regular season to try to get 1 more home game in a playoff series, or rest Wade MULTIPLE games throughout the season to have him more prepared to play his best in the playoffs. We’re talking 1 extra road game in a playoff series that the Heat know they can win if Wade is close to 100% as possible by resting him. I believe it will pay off in the end.

  23. Thomas says:

    I still think Westbrooks buzzer beater in overtime was the best regular season game shot.

  24. Mahamoud says:

    You’re absolutely right.

  25. H3atflash says:

    As a die hard Heat fan, I will be the first to say that this article is the prime example of an over-reaction of a single game win. Yes, the Heat are the two time defending champs, but that doesn’t mean that its just those guys playing in a league full of boys. The Pacers, Thunder, and Spurs are legitimate threats to Miamis quest to a three-peat as we saw last year and IMO, I feel as two of those teams got better. That being said, of course I feel like Miami will win it all again this year, especially if my guy Dwade has the good fortune of being healthy come May and June, but you cant simply discredit all the other teams that have played well thus far.

    • Witness says:

      He’s not doing that at all is he? No. he also point out that MOST PEOPLE OVERREACT after just a 2 game losing streak with the Heat and hes basically just putting it out there what alot of people have thought for a while and what we have seen is that the Heat DO have a switch and have proven for the past 2 years it can be turned on and off MOST of the time. Thats it. Call it a weakness of the Heat if you want, to play down to inferior opponents sometimes, but they are far from the only champion to ever suffer from that.

      • H3atflash says:

        Understood. But Fran says that the Pacers blew a 15 point lead on a night when LeBron and Rio were barking at each other. How does a small teammate scuffle put the other team (the Pacers) at a disadvantage? And saying that one of the best organizations in all of basketball (the Spurs) permanently losing their chance at a 5th title isn’t even pertinent. He just doesn’t provide much of a rationale behind the claim that Its Miami and everyone else. Although I would be happy if that was the case

      • Witness says:

        Right but the deal with the Spurs he said is that they “maybe” lost their chance meaning of course no matter how ageless they seem their window is still closing rather than staying open like it has for years. The game with the Pacers not taken advantage hes talking simply because any argument on a team can disrupt their flow and chemistry alot of times and cause them to play more poorly. See case in point LBJ’s game after he found out about Delonte West and his Mom. He was out of if and disinterested and got to see a human side of him how it affected him somewhat. Any beef players have can easily affect the outcome of a game simply by that team not playing at the top of their game. But of course I think Miamis earned the right as back to back champs as being “The Heat and everyone else”.

    • July says:

      Yes I can. you know why? Because they are not the Miami Heat.

    • Willy Spurd says:

      Finally a sensible Heat fan.

  26. Bryan says:

    Great article! Loved it because it’s true and because this is exactly what I say to people who doubt my Heat. Let’s go Heat! 3peat!

  27. Md. Azuri bin Zain says:

    The HEAT Big 3 is already written as the GREATEST trio in NBA History, More ringsss to come…

    • amitpal says:

      To me the greatest trio is tim duncan manu ginobili and tony parker. The heat trio better individual but they domt complent each other the way the spurs does. The spurs trio is more accomplished even though they have never had the talent surrounding them that miami has.

      • Pakyaw says:

        It’s because the spurs trio have coach pop, great coach, good motivator..

      • Rolando Mota says:

        They’re great players also and have accomplished quite a lot but they didn’t show any sort of good chemistry in the finals against the Heat, and basketball is not just about 3 guys it’s a whole team effort. The Heat has no serious contenders yet.

    • mee(a)t says:

      Jordan/Pippen/Rodman?
      Hakeem/Smith/Horry?

    • allaroundballer says:

      Wow where do u live in the world? Jordan-pippen-rodman : 3rings n nba winning record, magic-abdul jabbar-worthy : 4 rings. If they play 3 on 3 on their prime condition, do u honestly thing heat trio could win it?

  28. dustydreamnz says:

    D Wade and Bosh have been huge lately but I always seem to disagree with Fran, the league this year is a pretty open contest. Still around 10 teams I can realistically see winning it.

  29. Roy says:

    I’m pretty convinced that Indiana will knock the Heat out this year, they’ve only gotten better and while Lebron has maintained and even improved his play everyone else around him is only 1 year older.

    • HEATFANSINCEWADE says:

      Roy Hibbert is that you LOL? Stop talking and show us LOL

    • Witness says:

      The Heat also got better not a year older. Its funny because Most of the Heats best players are below 30 except for Wade and Allen and Birdman but yet they all are looking good definitely not “a year older” LOL Keep tryin to WISH them older like their just going to start crumbling but sorry that doesnt work. Heat were the better team easily in that playoff series and will prove it again this year.

    • Game Time says:

      It could happen, but Miami is still the better team. More experience, more talent and more composure under pressure. Indy has no real leader. PG is a great individual player, but he’s not a leader.

    • LeBron says:

      Is that you Hibbard?

  30. Trev says:

    They’re outstanding – With good health they will win another Larry O